This is a guest post by Blaine Kelton. When Blaine isn’t writing about music and technology, he’s usually cozying up with his collection of vinyl and old-school video games.
With the high-profile launch of Beats Music this past January, the question that’s been weighing on my mind is the following: How much are these companies making? How exactly are they making their money? And is their room for yet another competitor? While the answer for the first question is damn near impossible to find, the second really depends on the service you’re using. For the most part, they’re all boosting their revenue—if they have any—by servicing ads on their platforms and offering paid subscriptions. But that third question? Well, it looks like Samsung just answered. Last Friday, the Korean corporation officially threw its hat back into the ring with Milk Music.
For those unfamiliar with Samsung’s past in this marketplace, they launched a service called Music Hub back in 2012 that served two purposes. Music fans could stream music for a fee of $9.99/month and they could purchase tracks within the application’s store. As far as Milk Music goes, it’s essentially a complete overhaul of Music Hub, though listeners won’t be able to buy any music they’re enjoying—yet. The goal is to upgrade the app down the line to include that capability, and the same goes for that free price tag that comes with it. For now, you can snag the app in the Google Play store on the house and listen to whatever you like for free, too. Right now, there are around 13 million tracks available and more than 200 stations, the latter of which is increased by adding your own personalized stations.
Here are a couple of catches though: First off, It’s extremely likely that Samsung will bring in some sort of tiered-payment system—like its competitors Spotify and Pandora—as a means of, you know, actually making some money off this program. How exactly they’ll do that remains to be seen, because those two aforementioned streaming overlords still have free options for those who refuse to pay. Secondly, and this is a big one, Milk Music is only available for Galaxy users. So if you don’t have one of the following, you can’t use it until Samsung opens it up to other platforms: Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy Mega, Galaxy S4 Mini, and the Galaxy S5. The last of those is supposed to be released on April 11, though it’s not clear if that date will hold. For instance, Verizon Wireless notes that the S5 is only “coming soon” and “almost here.” Given the non-confirmed date and the recent Samsung factory fire, which was reported by Digital Trends, who knows when this phone will be released. Hopefully, for the company’s sake and the sake of those Samsung diehards out there, it won’t be impacted.
For now, everyone not equipped to download and test out Milk Music has several options. One: They can read up on the service and judge it based on that speculation alone. Two: They can find a friend with a Galaxy and see if he/she will allow for some music app experimentation. Three: You can just hold out and wait for the inevitable release to other markets. Chances are it won’t make its way to the Apple side for awhile—if at all—so don’t hold your breath, iPhone lovers. Personally, I’ve been able to use it for a few hours so far and, honestly, it’s pretty impressive. Switching from one genre to the next on the radio dial-esque dashboard is rather intuitive, and it actually gave me some solid recommendations. Clearly there are a few bugs to be worked out and I also need to spend more time with it, but Samsung could have a winner on its hands if Milk Music receives the push it needs (and deserves).